8 Tips for Buying Your Next Pickup Truck

November 30th, 2018 by

Tips for Buying Your Next Truck


Shopping for your next pickup truck might sound like it should be about the same process as shopping for a car. You need to decide between new or used, and choosing the right size, color, engine, trim and planning how you will use the truck.


Once you start the truck buying process, consider all the special uses that trucks are being put to today. And consider the growing number of styles and options that are available. It all can become a little overwhelming the deeper you go into it.


New or Used?

One of the first things truck buyers consider when deciding to buy a truck is whether to consider a new vehicle or one that’s used.


There are advantages to purchasing a new truck. New trucks generally have better warranties. Plus, you’ll have complete knowledge of the truck’s maintenance history. This is something you may or may not get with a used truck.


A pre-owned truck will most likely cost less to start with. The savings though may disappear over time because of excessive maintenance.


A lightly-used truck can be almost as good as a new one if you have complete information about how it’s been cared for and can be assured that it’s in good shape.


Used Truck Downsides

Unfortunately, there are downsides to purchasing a used truck. These include the fact that you’re always taking somewhat of a gamble with a used vehicle. Most of the time, trucks are used for work purposes. So, there’s a pretty good chance that the used truck you’re considering may have endured a lot of use while on the road.


For our purposes, we’re going to concentrate on the purchase of a new truck from a reputable dealer. That same dealer will probably have some used trucks available that you might also consider. Many of the benefits of buying a new truck from a dealer may also apply to when you buy a used vehicle from them as well. If you decide on purchasing used always use a used car checklist to thoroughly inspect the truck first.


So, here’s our list of eight main tips that should help you make the right choice when you’re looking for a new truck. We hope you’ll be able to use this list to have a better overall picture and narrow your options down to find the right truck that’s best for you.


Plan on Spending More

Finding exactly the right truck for you can often be more expensive than you expected. Trucks are expensive, and if you’ve only owned cars before, you might be in for a shock to discover that truck prices can be higher.


While the average selling price for a midsize car in 2018 has been a little over $26,000, the average selling price for the most popular size of a pickup during the same period was over $48,000.


Considering that a truck is going to cost more than a car, it’s probably a good idea to review your budget before deciding on the specifications. If you’re thinking of using the truck for your personal use, plan for the monthly payment to be not over fifteen percent of your total take-home pay. Of course, you can lower the monthly payment by making a larger down payment. Fifteen percent is usually considered the maximum amount you should consider paying each month.


Check with your local bank, credit union or even an online lender to see if you can get pre-approved financing. Then, when you’re at the dealer, see whether they can come up with a lower rate.


If your truck will be used at work, talk with the financial adviser at your business and set your budget based on how much you’ll be using it for work purposes. Be sure to also take into consideration that the business may grow over the next few years. Those demands may place more demands on the use of the truck. Also, consider if leasing the truck might not be a better option than buying.


Know What You’ll be Carrying

Knowing how you are going to use the truck and what you’ll be hauling with it can help you narrow the choices of the type and model to buy. Think about the main items you’ll be carrying in the truck. Consider where you’ll be going with it.


These questions will help you decide between two-wheel and more expensive four-wheel drive. If you are carrying heavy loads, two extra rear wheels on each side will add stability and heavier capacity to the vehicle.


If you are carrying only small or medium size items, a mid-size truck might be one of your first considerations. They are also easier to drive and park than larger trucks.


Light, Medium, or Heavy Duty

After you have considered what you’ll be carrying around each day with your new truck, you should have a good idea of what the weight capacity should be. This will help you decide between choosing a light-duty, heavy-duty, full-size, or one that’s in-between.


It’s important to make the best choice in picking the right size for your truck. If you carry heavier loads than the truck’s designed for, you may have trouble hauling what you need. You’ll also be putting extra stress on the truck’s engine and frame. But if you buy more truck than you need, the cost of operating it will be excessive. It will also be harder to negotiate traffic and fit it into parking lots and driveways. Most experts suggest that you over-estimate your requirements by a small amount. Aim for about ten percent more capacity than what you think you will actually need. And always be sure to take a test drive before buying.


If you’re not sure about the exact requirements, you’ll need, check the manufacturer’s specification sheets on the web. There you’ll find their towing guidelines for each of the models they sell and other useful information that will help you to make your decision.


Engine and Axle Ratio

Truck buyers will often try to decide between an engine that has enough power to get the job done, or one that’s larger than they need and wastes gas. Today’s truck manufacturers are making much more fuel-efficient engines than ever before. And many manufacturers today offer V-6 engines that can do the same work as a V-8 did only a decade or so ago, while also getting better fuel economy.


Diesel engines are also offered as an option in many new trucks. Diesel has better low-end torque for pulling heavy loads and generally have a longer engine life. In the past, diesel was only available in larger trucks, but recently light and medium duty trucks have begun to offer diesel options.


Many truck owners prefer the diesel because they can move heavier loads easier at a constant speed. They also don’t consume as much fuel as a gasoline engine. But diesel trucks can have a higher ownership cost, and diesel fuel can cost as much as mid-grade or premium gasoline, or not be available at all stations.


Another option when deciding on the truck to buy involves the axle ratio. The higher the axle ratio number, the more towing capacity you will have, and the more fuel the engine will burn. Many pickup trucks offer several different axle ratios. This will affect your fuel economy and the truck’s towing capacity.


When a truck has an optional axle ratio of 3.73, you can tow more weight than with a ratio of 3.21 or 3.55. Unfortunately, this will cause your fuel economy to suffer. This information won’t be obvious on the window sticker you see in the dealer’s showroom. You’ll need to know what the axle ratio listed on the truck’s “options” list is and that may lower the actual fuel economy you get.


Bed and Cab Sizes

Most of today’s truck manufacturers offer several different cab sizes. The smallest cab has a single row seat with a narrow space between the seats. Quad, King, or Super Cab models are somewhat larger with rear doors that hinged outward and can’t move until a front door opens. Even larger trucks, like double-cab models with four doors, have much larger front doors than the rear ones and there’s less legroom in the back.


Crew-cab (Super Crew or Crew Max) will have four full-sized doors. They will also have a generous back seat that’s spacious enough to hold adults for extended periods of travel as well as a full-sized car.


An important detail to remember is that the cab size may affect the length of the truck’s bed. A standard-length truck that has a crew cab will wind up shortening the length of the truck bed, so it still remains within standard-length. To have a long bed on your truck, you will need to have a longer wheelbase which will make the truck more difficult to park and maneuver.


Bed sizes vary according to each manufacturer’s specifications but are generally about 5.5 feet, 6.5 feet and up to 8 feet in length. Even though you might like to have an 8-foot bed to haul sheets of plywood or sheetrock, combining it with a crew cab might be a problem. You could find that your truck will wind up being too long to fit into your garage.


To increase your bed capacity without adding more length to the truck, many manufacturers offer a “bed extender” option. This lets the owner lower the tailgate and use it instead as bed space.


In choosing a bed length, think of the different sizes of lumber or other materials you intend to haul with your new truck. And keep in mind that sheetrock and plywood come in 4 x 8-foot sections and won’t fit inside a smaller bed.


Trims, Options, & Packages

When you start to think about the interior options on your new truck, you’ll find that options are “bundled” into special editions. Examples of this are Chevrolet’s “All-Star Edition” or other similar packages. Check with your dealer to see what’s included in the special edition or packages available for the truck you’re considering. Always keep in mind that when you pre-configured your truck on the internet, the exact same combination you decide on may not exist in the real world.


It’s important that you be flexible in deciding on some of the truck’s options. Otherwise, you may wind up having to special-order the truck from the factory, and then wait for an at least several months before delivery.


Make a list of your “must-have” features or packages. The easiest way to find the closest to what you’re looking for is to give your list to the salesperson at the dealership. When you explain your preferred color choice, always have an alternate color in mind. This will improve the odds of you being able to find the exact truck you want at the best price.


For example, you could say to the salesman that you’re looking for a new 2019 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab. You want it to have a short box, with 4WD and the 3.6L V6 DOHC engine, 3.92 axle ratio and 33-gallon fuel tank. Your top color choice is Kinetic Blue Metallic premium paint, but you’ll consider other colors if that’s not available.


Check for Regulations and Special Fees

You may find that choosing a larger than the normal truck could require special licensing or involve special fees. In some provinces or states, a light-duty truck is considered a “commercial” vehicle and is assessed a weight fee when purchased. The heavier the truck is, the more the fee. Check with your dealer or motor vehicle authorities before making your final purchase.


We hope we’ve helped you understand the overall picture of buying your next truck. Once you can narrow your options down to a reasonable number of choices, you should have a lot easier time finding the exact truck that’s right for you.


Get Your Financing Pre-Approved

Before you get your heart set on a purchasing a specific truck, you should work with the dealership to get your auto financing pre-approved. Having your auto loan figured out ahead of time helps you know what model of truck and payment you can fit into your budget. If the truck is more than you can afford it wouldn’t make sense to test drive it and spend countless hours researching to find out it won’t work. No one wants to purchase to much truck and risk missing a vehicle payment. Save yourself some pain and suffering and work with a financial institution or dealership to get the funds setup ahead of time.



Viking Motors is Manitoba’s premier source for new and used vehicles from Chevrolet, Buick, and GMC. Whatever you’re looking for in a top-quality new or used truck, let our experts be your guide in finding the right vehicle for you and your family.